I’m on a mission.
I want to get to the bottom of why therapists struggle to talk about their fees.
When I mentor therapists, setting fees is one of the biggest hurdles for therapists to overcome. I’ve observed that therapists have many hang-ups about money that hinder our professional freedom.
Don’t get me wrong. Even though I’ve been at this for a long time, I still hesitate or want to make excuses for my fees.
However, somewhere along my journey, my thinking about helping people and making money changed. Now I no longer feel ashamed for making a good income as a therapist or mentor.
EMBRACE A BOTH/AND MINDSET
Probably like you, I entered this profession to help people. I didn’t want to be a therapist to become rich. However, I did have a dream of being my own boss, working hard, and being rewarded for it.
Through years of managing a private practice, I began to understand that my mindset didn’t have to be EITHER/OR thinking. I could adopt a non-dualistic mindset of BOTH/AND.
I didn’t have to help people OR make good money.
I could help people AND make good money.
They weren’t mutually exclusive. In reality, serving people and making a profit usually went hand in hand.
Letting go of dualistic thinking was the first step in reconciling two seemingly opposite concepts: serving others and making a profit.
DEVELOP A NON-DUALISTIC MINDSET
“Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” ~Shakespeare
When I think dualistically everything is either/or, right or wrong, or good or bad.
If I see everything in black and white, then I miss all the shades of grey between the two poles.
Richard Rohr describes nondual thinking as:
“Our ability to read reality in a way that is not judgmental, in a way that is not exclusionary of the part that we don’t understand…Stay with that necessary dilemma, and it can make you wise.”
If we see the concept of service to others “better” than the idea of making a profit or vice versa, we create an internal dilemma.
I’ve worked with many well-meaning therapists who feel conflicted about making money from someone else’s need. They wrestle with these types of questions:
“How can I be a person who helps others and, at the same time, make money off them?”
“How can we charge our full fee if their resources are limited, and the services we offer are vital to their wellbeing?”
“Isn’t helping others pure and good while profit is somehow tainted and evil?”
Each of us has to resolve the inner conflict that often surrounds helping people and making a living. Repressing the conflict won’t make it go away. You’ll find it rearing its ugly head in your attitudes and conversations throughout your career.
PRACTICAL STEPS TO GET THERE
There is no right or wrong way (dualistic thinking) on how to reconcile in your mind/heart serving patients and charging fairly.
At some point, you’ll have to find a way that makes sense to you. Here are a couple of suggestions to get started:
- Learn more about dualistic and nondual thinking. Most therapists are adept dualistic thinkers. We know by analyzing, comparing, and differentiation to be good therapists. Expand your ability to employ nondual thinking when necessary.
- Separate the caring you have for your patients from the knowledge and skills you possess. Believe that you charge for your skills, not your caring.
- Reflect on the time and money it took for your education and the value you provide. If your business or the one you work for doesn’t make a profit, you will no longer be around to provide the service.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about therapists and money in the comments below. If you want to email me, I can reach me at [email protected]